Reflections on 'Harry and Chris Save the World'

| 10th August 2018
Photograph of comedy duo Harry and Chris

Harry & Chris

The List
How can comedy be good for the environment? Comedian and musician HARRY BAKER of Harry and Chris reflects on the duo's current Edinburgh Fringe show and upcoming tour.

In our songs as well as in our lives, we figured there’s no point just having a go at people and trying to make them feel rubbish about themselves when it comes to the environment.

A classic origin story: when I was 16 I wrote a song called ‘Planet Earth’ over a grime instrumental for a reflective alternative worship service that my brother and his friend were running at church one Sunday evening. 

Despite including such powerful sentiments as “If this is Mother Earth, When did she give birth?”, and a chorus that begun with “What wood you do about Deforestation” and ended with “Does it (referring to my powerful environmental message) make you stop, like a station”, it wasn’t quite enough to inspire the world to change its ways.

Ten years later I’ve teamed up with Chris to try again, this time with more comedy, and fewer ‘ation’ rhymes.

New habits

I’ve always tried to be conscious about the world that we live in, whether through overly earnest teenage raps or even last year attempting to go vegetarian for lent because of the impact of the meat industry. This was in turn met by Chris writing a song about feeling betrayed that we could no longer eat meat together, but as we explore in this new song even he is considering a meat-free Monday every once in a while.

I got married in January and my wife Grace constantly inspires me to be better and calls me out on stuff when I forget.

For our wedding we saved money by making it BYOB and instead put that towards providing keep-cups for our guests as wedding favours to save on having to use plastic cups on the day, but also we’ve loved getting pictures of them using them since and hoping that’s trickled out into fewer single-use cups being used.

We’ve since moved to the seaside in Margate so as well as upgrading my diet to be vegetarian-apart-from-locally-caught-fish-and-chips-on-special-occasions, it’s a lot more shocking to see the amount of waste people leave on the beach and the impact it has in the sea.

Being on the road a lot, it’s easy to get into a habit of buying lots of food and drink in packaging, but my reusable water bottle and keep-cup have been lifesavers - especially on the occasional overnight megabus! Recently Chris has got good at shouting ‘No!’ before anyone puts a straw in our drinks. 

Zero-waste song

In this year’s show we’ve tried to tackle more serious issues, such as the end of the world and the power that fear does or doesn’t have over us - especially regarding newspapers and immigration. 

We’ve loved pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and seeing where it’s led.

To this end Chris had the idea for a ‘Zero-Waste Song’. It’s honestly one of my favorites from the show. There’s also a beyoncé/teletubbies mashup that is arguably a less serious issue but still important. 

In our songs as well as in our lives, we figured there’s no point just having a go at people and trying to make them feel rubbish about themselves when it comes to the environment. People tend to switch off and disengage, so we're very much trying to meet people where they are and encourage gradual change.  

Comedy is also brilliant way to change the way we look at things. The first verse of the song involves us trying to explain certain things to someone looking back from the future. What’s a sachet? It’s a tiny saucy stash-et. It feels like that sort of thing will stick with people maybe more than a powerpoint presentation. 

Spreading hope

We’re excited to see if it does make more of a difference than my teenage efforts. 

We’ve also expanded our merch for this year! We have organic bamboo t-shirts made in a factory powered by solar and wind energy (don’t even worry about it). 

We’re also getting 150 reusable cups made that say ‘The Way Things Are Is Not The Way They Have To Be’ - the chorus of the song - that hopefully people can take out and spread the love with.

Although we do realise that if nobody buys them then all we’ve done is manufactured another 150 cups - so we really hope some people come along to see us at the Fringe or on tour and buy them.

This Author

Harry Baker  is one half of the comedy/rap/jazz duo Harry and Chris. They perform 'Harry & Chris Save The World' at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Just The Tonic, The Mash House to 25 August 2018 at 2:25pm, ahead of a nationwide tour from 2 October. More info and tickets are available here

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